Search Results for: lucas

A Gem (or rather, a Ring) from Lucas

The demented Russophobe Edward Lucas has surpassed even his own stellar record of profound insights about the evil empire, this time explicitly comparing Russia to Mordor (the land of shadow in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings) from his Yahoo! list.

Quoted below in its entirety for laughs.

The British author JRR Tolkien always hated any attempt to compare his fantasy world of Middle Earth to contemporary political systems. Yet his books were hugely popular in eastern Europe during the years of communist captivity. The “scouring of the Shire”, in which a prosperous agricultural economy is reduced to destitution and misery by the activities of the “gatherers” and “sharers” bears an uncanny resemblance to the collectivisation of the Baltic states in the early years of Soviet occupation. “A lot of gathering, and precious little sharing” says a hobbit dourly.

But as the skies darken once again over the European continent (or Middle Earth if you prefer) , the temptation to find analogies in the Lord of the Rings trilogy is overwhelming. Mordor is clearly the Russian Federation, ruled by the demonic overlord Sauron (Putin). His email address, to give a contemporary note, might be [email protected] (the suffix is for Middle Earth). The threat from Mordor—symbolised by the Ring—is the combination of dirty money and authoritarian political thinking.

And Sauron’s henchmen the Orcs are clearly the murderous goons of the old KGB. The new twist—the Uruk-Hai, is the mutation of the old Soviet intelligence service with organised crime and big business. Sauron’s allies—the Nazgul—are the Siloviki, the sinister chieftains of the Kremlin’s authoritarian capitalist system. Like the Nazgul, we seldom see their faces.

And what of the opposition? One candidate for Frodo couild Mart Laar, Estonia’s irrepresible former prime minister and someone who has consistently seen clearly the threat from Mordor and what to do about it. His faithful sidekick could be Sasha Vondra, the equally prescient and doughty deputy prime minister of the Czech Republic. Other possible hobbit-heros are Ivan Krastev, Bulgaria’s top foreign-policy analyst, Jüri Luik, Estonia’s ambassador to Nato,

(more suggestions for hobbits welcome)

The Fellowship of the Ring included elves—a strange but awe-inspiring folk whose presence in middle earth was drawing to an end. They are clearly the Americans, whose long-drawn-out withdrawal from Europe is halted but not reversed by the need to fight the titanic battle against the forces of Mordor. Prominent elves include the thinktanker and propagandist Ron Asmus (perhaps Elrond?_Galadriel (possibly Anne Applebaum), Celeborn, Galadriel’s husband is (twisting the plot a bit) could be Bruce Jackson. One candidate for Legolas could be America’s top diplomat for pipelines and energy security, Matt Bryza. Who would be a good Arwen?

What about Eowyn, or Eomer, Aragorn (poss Radek Sikorski or Carl Bild). Misha Saakashvili could be Boromir (desire for forbidden fruits led him to put his own personal interests ahead of the common cause)
Bilbo Baggins, the hero of the Hobbit, could be Vaclav Havel, or Vytautas Landsbergis, heroes of the battle against the evil empire in previous ages,

But who is Gandalf? One candidate would be Lennart Meri, the much-mourned Estonian former president and elder statesman, who had just the right blend of wisdom, courage and mischief and wizard-like abilities with both people and gadgets. Sadly, Lennart died in 2006. But Gandalf disappeared in the mines of moriar—and came back triumphantly in the third volume of the trilogy. Lennart’s many friends and fans hope for the same, at least in spirit.

Picking out the cast on the bad side runs the risk an encounter with England’s ferocious libel laws. It is not too hard, however, to see candidates to be Wormtongue, the slimy propagandist for Mordor who weakens the will of the King of Rohan, Theoden. His kingdom could be almost any country in Europe, but had better be Germany. And it is easy to think who might count as Germany’s foremost expert on Russia and a biographer of Sauron. Saruman is more difficult still—a hero of past wars who has switched sides to disastrous effect. He could be any one of the top West European leaders who have so disastrously forgotten the lessons of the Cold War and have been seduced by Mordor’s dirty money.

Too bad that poor Ed is not only totally disconnected from reality, but his madness isn’t even original.



Last updated: Feb 1, 2022

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WoT-6Jordan, RobertLord of Chaos420041994EpicEN
WoT-7Jordan, RobertA Crown of Swords320041996EpicEN
WoT-8Jordan, RobertThe Path of Daggers220041998EpicEN
WoT-9Jordan, RobertWinter’s Heart220042000EpicEN
WoT-10Jordan, RobertCrossroads of Twilight120042003EpicEN
WoT-0Jordan, RobertNew Spring320082004EpicEN
WoT-11Jordan, RobertKnife of Dreams320052005EpicEN
WoT-12Jordan, Robert & SandersonThe Gathering Storm420092009EpicEN
WoT-13Jordan, Robert & SandersonTowers of Midnight320102010EpicEN
WoT-14Jordan, Robert & SandersonA Memory of Light220132013EpicEN
WoT-14+Jordan, Robert & SandersonA Memory of Light: River of Souls420142014EpicEN
DT-1King, StephenThe Gunslinger220081982EpicEN
Le Guin, UrsulaEARTHSEA CHRONICLES4#~EpicENreviewedshort
ES-1Le Guin, UrsulaThe Wizard of Earthsea420041968EpicEN
ES-2Le Guin, UrsulaThe Tombs of Atuan520041971EpicEN
ES-3Le Guin, UrsulaThe Farthest Shore420041972EpicEN
Lovecraft, H.P.The Call of Cthulhu520121928HorrorEN
Martin, G.R.R.A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE5#~EpicENbestreviewedshort
SoF-1Martin, G.R.R.A Game of Thrones520131996EpicENbest
SoF-2Martin, G.R.R.A Clash of Kings520131999EpicENbest
SoF-3Martin, G.R.R.A Storm of Swords520132000EpicENbest
SoF-4Martin, G.R.R.A Feast for Crows520132005EpicENbest
SoF-5Martin, G.R.R.A Dance with Dragons520132011EpicEN
Tw-1Meyer, StephanieTwilight220092005YAEN
Pullman, PhilipThe Firework-Maker’s Daughter420051995Children'sEN
Pullman, PhilipClockwork420051996Children'sEN
Pullman, PhilipHIS DARK MATERIALS5#~Children'sENreviewedshort
HDM-1Pullman, PhilipThe Golden Compass520121995Children'sENbest
HDM-2Pullman, PhilipThe Subtle Knife520121997Children'sEN
HDM-3Pullman, PhilipThe Amber Spyglass420122000Children'sEN
HC-1Reeve, PhilipMortal Engines4#20142001YAENreviewedshort
HC-2Reeve, PhilipPredator’s Gold220142003YAEN
Rowling, J.K.HARRY POTTER4#~Children'sENreviewedshort
HP-1Rowling, J.K.Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone520041997Children'sEN
HP-2Rowling, J.K.Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets520041998Children'sEN
HP-3Rowling, J.K.Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban520041999Children'sEN
HP-4Rowling, J.K.Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire520052000Children'sEN
HP-5Rowling, J.K.Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix420052003Children'sEN
HP-6Rowling, J.K.Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince420062005Children'sEN
HP-7Rowling, J.K.Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows420072007Children'sEN
Sanderson, BrandonMISTBORN5#~YAENbestreviewedshort
MB-1Sanderson, BrandonThe Final Empire520092006YAEN
MB-2Sanderson, BrandonThe Well of Ascension420092007YAEN
MB-3Sanderson, BrandonThe Hero of Ages520092008YAEN
SC-1Sanderson, BrandonThe Way of Kings520102010EpicEN
Sanderson, BrandonWAX & WAYNE4#~YAENreviewedshort
W&W-1Sanderson, BrandonThe Alloy of Law420122011YAEN
Sanderson, BrandonThe Emperor’s Soul520122012Short StoryENbest
Sanderson, BrandonTHE RECKONERS3~YAEN
Reck-1Sanderson, BrandonSteelheart420132013YAEN
Reck-1+Sanderson, BrandonMitosis320142014YAEN
Reck-2Sanderson, BrandonFirefight320152015YAEN
W&W-2Sanderson, BrandonShadows of Self420152015YAEN
MB-1+Sanderson, BrandonMistborn: Secret History520162016YAEN
W&W-3Sanderson, BrandonThe Bands of Mourning420162016YAEN
Reck-3Sanderson, BrandonCalamity320162016YAEN
Tolkien, John R.R.The Hobbit520001937Children'sENbest
Tolkien, John R.R.THE LORD OF THE RINGS5#~EpicENbestreviewedshort
LotR-1Tolkien, John R.R.The Fellowship of the Ring520011954EpicENbest
LotR-2Tolkien, John R.R.The Two Towers520011954EpicENbest
LotR-3Tolkien, John R.R.The Return of the King520011955EpicENbest
Tolkien, John R.R.The Silmarillion320021977EpicEN
Yudkowsky, EliezerHarry Potter and the Methods of Rationality5#20152015YA, FanFicENbestreviewedshort
Yudkowsky, EliezerDark Lord’s Answer320162016HumorEN



Allen, DavidGetting Things Done420142002ProductivityEN
Carnegie, DaleHow to Win Friends and Influence People220081936SocialEN
Demarco, M.J.The Millionaire Fastlane5#20122011BusinessENbestreviewedshort
Durant, JohnThe Paleo Manifesto5201320132013Health, PaleoENbestreviewed
Ferriss, TimThe Four Hour Workweek520092007ProductivityENbest
Ferriss, TimThe Four Hour Body320092010Health, PaleoEN
Kearny, CressonNuclear War Survival Skills320091987SurvivalismEN
King, StephenOn Writing420082000WritingEN
Kresser, ChrisThe Paleo Cure420142013Health, PaleoEN
Roosh VBang!520112007SocialEN
Sisson, MarkThe Primal Blueprint420132009Health, PaleoEN
Sisson, MarkThe Primal Connection420132013Health, PaleoEN
Strauss, NeilThe Game520082005SocialEN
Wade, PaulConvict Conditioning4201320132010Health, FitnessENreviewed
Wolf, RobbThe Paleo Solution320132010Health, PaleoEN



The 6th Day3#2000ActionENreviewedshort
13 Assassins42011HistoryJP
28L-128 Days Later5#2003Horror, ZombiesENreviewedshort
28L-228 Weeks Later22007Horror, ZombiesEN
20123#20092009SciFi, DisasterENreviewedshort
9th Company32005Drama, WarRU
A Cinema Prayer220192019Drama, True StoryEN
AI2#2001SciFi, AIENreviewedshort
Alien-2Alien: Covenant3#20172017SciFiENreviewedshort
AvP-1Alien vs. Predator4#2004SciFiENreviewedshort
Alien Girl5#20142010CrimeRUreviewedshort
AP-1American Pie5#1999ComedyENbestreviewedshort
AP-2American Pie 242001ComedyEN
AP-3American Wedding42003ComedyEN
AP-4American Pie Presents: Band Camp32005ComedyEN
AP-5American Pie Presents: The Naked Mile32006ComedyEN
AP-6American Pie Presents: Beta House32007ComedyEN
An Inconvenient Truth22006DocumentaryEN
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy42004ComedyEN
Back to the Future420211985SciFi, ComedyEN
Barely Legal42011ComedyEN
BatmanBatman: Dark Knight42008SciFi, SuperheroesEN
BatmanBatman: Dark Knight Rises520172012SciFi, SuperheroesEN
BatmanJoker5201920192019SciFi, SuperheroesENreviewed
Battle Royale5#2000SciFi, DystopiaENreviewedshort
The Big Lebowski5#1998ComedyENbestreviewedshort
Bodyguards and Assassins3#2009HistoryCNreviewedshort
The Boondock Saints3#1999CrimeENreviewedshort
Borat the Movie32006ComedyEN
The Bourne Identity42002Action, SpyEN
Bowling for Columbine12002DocumentaryEN
The Brothers Bloom4#2008ComedyENreviewedshort
The Burning32009HorrorEN
Cannibal Holocaust1#1979HorrorENreviewedshort
Capitalism: A Love Story32009DocumentaryEN
Children of Men2#2006SciFi, DystopiaENreviewedshort
Collateral Damage32002ActionEN
Commanding Heights: Battle for the World Economy520022002DocumentaryEN
Conan-1Conan the Barbarian31982FantasyEN
Conan-2Conan the Destroyer31984FantasyEN
Conan-3Red Sonja31985FantasyEN
Contagion4202020202011SciFi, DisasterENreviewed
The Crazies42010Horror, ZombiesEN
Cube-2Cube 2: Hypercube42002SciFiEN
Dark Planet520222009SciFi, DystopiaRUbest
DD-1Night of the Living Dead41968Horror, ZombiesEN
DD-2Dawn of the Dead51978Horror, ZombiesEN
DD-3Day of the Dead21985Horror, ZombiesEN
DD-4Land of the Dead22005Horror, ZombiesEN
DD-5Diary of the Dead32007Horror, ZombiesEN
DD-6Day of the Dead22008Horror, ZombiesEN
The Day After Tomorrow5#2004SciFi, DisasterENreviewedshort
Dead Season21969Horror, ZombiesEN
Dead Snow32009Horror, ZombiesEN
Deep Blue Sea41999SciFiEN
Deep Impact31998SciFi, DisasterEN
The Descent52005HorrorENbest
The Devil Wears Prada52006Drama, ComedyEN
The Diamond Arm3#1969CrimeRUreviewedshort
The Dictator12012ComedyEN
Django Unchained2#20122012HistoryENreviewedshort
Dr. Strangelove5#1964ComedyENbestreviewedshort
Dracula5#1973Horror, VampiresENbestreviewedshort
Drunken Master41978Action, Martial ArtsEN
Enter the Dragon41973Action, Martial ArtsEN
Equilibrium4#2002SciFi, DystopiaENreviewedshort
Ex Machina5#20152015SciFi, AIENbestreviewedshort
The Expendables32010ActionEN
The Expendables 232012ActionEN
Fahrenheit 91152004DocumentaryEN
The Fall of an Empire: Lessons from Byzantium3200920092009DocumentaryRUreviewed
The Fifth Element5#1997SciFiENreviewedshort
Far Cry32008SciFiEN
FAWLTY TOWERS (1975-1979)4TV, ComedyEN
Fight Club5#1999DramaENbestreviewedshort
Forrest Gump3#20171994ComedyEN
GoTGAME OF THRONES (2011-2019)52018TV, FantasyENbestreviewedshort
GoT-1Game of Thrones: S1520132011TV, FantasyEN
GoT-2Game of Thrones: S2520132012TV, FantasyEN
GoT-3Game of Thrones: S3520132013TV, FantasyEN
GoT-4Game of Thrones: S4520142014TV, FantasyEN
GoT-5Game of Thrones: S5420152015TV, FantasyEN
GoT-6Game of Thrones: S64201720162016TV, FantasyENreviewed
GoT-7Game of Thrones: S72201920172017TV, FantasyENreviewed
GoT-8Game of Thrones: S81201920192019TV, FantasyENreviewed
Ghost in the Shell320172017SciFiEN
GF-1The Godfather520201972CrimeENbestreviewedshort
Graveyard Shift31990HorrorEN
Grindhouse: Death Proof/Planet Terror32007HorrorEN
Grizzly Man320212005DocumentaryEN
H&K-1Harold and Kumar go to White Castle52004ComedyEN
H&K-2Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay32008ComedyEN
HP-1Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone42001FantasyEN
HP-2Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets42002FantasyEN
HP-3Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban42004FantasyEN
HP-4Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire42005FantasyEN
HP-6Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince42009FantasyEN
HP-5Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix42007FantasyEN
HP-7Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows I42010FantasyEN
HP-8Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows II32011FantasyEN
Hb-1The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey42012FantasyEN
Hb-2The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug32013FantasyEN
Hb-3The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies2#2014FantasyENreviewedshort
The Hole5#2001HorrorENreviewedshort
Home Alone41990ComedyEN
The Horde42012HistoryRU
The Human Centipede1#2002HorrorENreviewedshort
HG-1The Hunger Games32012SciFi, DystopiaEN
HG-2The Hunger Games: Catching Fire32013SciFi, DystopiaEN
I Am Legend32007SciFi, Post-ApocEN
I, Robot22004SciFiEN
IJ-1Raiders of the Lost Ark41981ActionEN
IJ-2Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom41984ActionEN
IJ-4Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull22008ActionEN
Independence Day31996SciFi, DisasterEN
Iron Man32008SciFi, SuperheroesEN
Ivan Vasilievich: Back to the Future5#1973ComedyRUbestreviewedshort
Jackass: The Movie22002ComedyEN
JB-1Dr. No41962Action, SpyEN
JB-2From Russia with Love51963Action, SpyEN
JB-3Goldfinger51964Action, SpyEN
JB-4Thunderball41965Action, SpyEN
JB-5You Only Live Twice51967Action, SpyEN
JB-6On Her Majesty’s Secret Service51969Action, SpyEN
JB-7Diamonds are Forever41971Action, SpyEN
JB-8Live and Let Die41973Action, SpyEN
JB-9The Man with the Golden Gun31974Action, SpyEN
JB-10The Spy Who Loved Me41977Action, SpyEN
JB-11Moonraker31979Action, SpyEN
JB-12For Your Eyes Only41981Action, SpyEN
JB-13Octopussy41983Action, SpyEN
JB-14A View to a Kill31985Action, SpyEN
JB-15The Living Daylights31987Action, SpyEN
JB-16Licence to Kill31989Action, SpyEN
JB-17GoldenEye41995Action, SpyEN
JB-18Tomorrow Never Dies41997Action, SpyEN
JB-19The World Is Not Enough41999Action, SpyEN
JB-20Die Another Day5#2002Action, SpyENbestreviewedshort
JB-21Casino Royale32006Action, SpyEN
JB-22Quantum of Solace32008Action, SpyEN
JB-23Skyfall2#2012Action, SpyENreviewedshort
JP-1Jurassic Park51993SciFiENbest
JP-2The Lost World: Jurassic Park31997SciFiEN
JP-4Jurassic World3#20152015SciFiENreviewedshort
KB-1Kill Bill: Vol. 142003Action, Martial ArtsEN
KB-2Kill Bill: Vol. 242004Action, Martial ArtsEN
Kingdom of Heaven32005HistoryEN
The Last Samurai22003HistoryEN
Legend of Kolovrat5201720172017HistoryRUreviewed
Leviathan2202120202014Drama, ArthouseRUreviewed
Life After People42010DocumentaryEN
The Life of Brian51979ComedyEN
Loose Change42006DocumentaryEN
LotR-1LotR: The Fellowship of the Ring5#2001FantasyENbestreviewedshort
LotR-2LotR: The Two Towers52002FantasyENbest
LotR-3LotR: The Return of the King52003FantasyENbest
Lord of War5#2005DramaENreviewedshort
MM-1Mad Max41979SciFi, Post-ApocEN
MM-4Mad Max: Fury Road5#20152015SciFi, Post-ApocENreviewedshort
The Man with the Gun11938HistoryRU
The Martian4201520152015SciFiENreviewed
M-1The Matrix5#1999SciFiENbestreviewedshort
M-2The Matrix Reloaded52003SciFiENbest
M-3The Matrix Revolutions52003SciFiENbest
M-3+The Animatrix42003SciFiEN
Max Payne42008SciFiEN
Minority Report22002SciFiEN
Mortal Engines2#20192018SciFi, Post-ApocENreviewedshort
Mortal Kombat: The Movie21995FantasyEN
The Name of the Rose5#20051986HistoryENreviewedshort
National Lampoon’s Animal House520161978ComedyEN
NW-1The Night Watch5#2004FantasyRUreviewedshort
Ocean’s Eleven5#1960CrimeENbestreviewedshort
Office Space5#1999ComedyENbestreviewedshort
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood320192019DramaEN
Operation Y and Shurik’s Other Adventures51965ComedyRU
The Passion of the Christ32004HistoryEN
PEEP SHOW (2003-2015)5TV, ComedyENbest
The Pianist5#2002HistoryENbestreviewedshort
Pirates of the 20th Century4#1979ActionRUreviewedshort
PotC-1Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest42006FantasyEN
PotC-3Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End42007FantasyEN
Prince of Persia: Sands of Time32010FantasyEN
Pulp Fiction31994CrimeEN
Q-2Quarantine 2: The Terminal42011Horror, ZombiesEN
REC5#2007Horror, ZombiesENbestreviewedshort
Red Heat31988ActionEN
The Return of the Living Dead4#1985Horror, ZombiesENreviewedshort
Reservoir Dogs3#1992CrimeENreviewedshort
RE-1Resident Evil42002Horror, ZombiesEN
RE-2Resident Evil: Apocalypse52004Horror, ZombiesEN
RE-3Resident Evil: Extinction32007Horror, ZombiesEN
RE-3+Resident Evil: Degeneration22008Horror, ZombiesEN
RE-5Resident Evil: Retribution22012Horror, ZombiesEN
The Road220092009SciFi, Post-ApocEN
The Road to Perdition32002CrimeEN
The Running Man31987SciFi, DystopiaEN
Sw-1Saw I32004HorrorEN
Sw-2Saw II32005HorrorEN
Sw-3Saw III3#2006HorrorENreviewedshort
Sw-4Saw VI32007HorrorEN
Sw-5Saw V32008HorrorEN
Sw-6Saw VI32009HorrorEN
Schindler’s List5#1993HistoryENreviewedshort
The Shawshank Redemption51994DramaEN
The Shining51980HorrorEN
Slumdog Millionaire42008DramaEN
Snakes on a Plane32006ActionEN
Snowden3#20162016Drama, True StoryENreviewedshort
Snowpiercer4#20202013SciFi, DystopiaENreviewedshort
The Social Network520102010Drama, True StoryEN
Species420201995SciFi, HorrorEN
SW-4Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace31999SciFiEN
SW-5Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones32002SciFiEN
SW-6Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith32005SciFiEN
SW-7Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens2#20172015SciFiENreviewedshort
ST-1Starship Troopers4#20181997SciFiENreviewedshort
Super Size Me320202004DocumentaryEN
T-1The Terminator41984SciFi, AIEN
T-2Terminator 2: Judgment Day51991SciFi, AIENbest
T-3Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines32003SciFi, AIEN
Texas Chainsaw Massacre22003HorrorEN
Threads5#1984SciFi, DisasterENbestreviewedshort
To Live2#1994HistoryCNreviewedshort
Total Recall5#1990SciFiENreviewedshort
True Lies41994ActionEN
US-2Under Siege 2: Dark Territory5#1995ActionENreviewedshort
U-1Underworld42003Horror, VampiresEN
U-2Underworld: Evolution32006Horror, VampiresEN
U-3Underworld: Rise of the Lycans22009Horror, VampiresEN
Valhalla Rising22009HistoryEN
The Wandering Earth3201920192019SciFiCNreviewed
WD-1The Walking Dead: S1320122010TV, Horror, ZombiesEN
WHEEL OF TIME (2021+)1#20212021TV, FantasyENreviewedshort
Wheel of Time: S11202220212021TV, FantasyENreviewed
White Sun of the Desert41970DramaRU
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory51971Comedy, FantasyEN
THE WITCHER220202019TV, FantasyEN
Wolf of Wall Street520172013DramaEN
World War Z3#20132013Horror, ZombiesENreviewedshort
YERMAK51996TV, HistoryRU



AoE-2Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings5#20001999Strategy, RTSbestreviewedshort
Battle of Polytopia320222016Strategy,
BFBattlefield 14#20192016Action [MP], FPSreviewedshort
BFBattlefield 44#20152013Action [MP], FPSreviewedshort
Chivalry: Medieval Warfare3#20142012Action [MP], FPSreviewedshort
Civ-2Civilization II5#19991996Strategyreviewedshort
Civ-3Civilization III4#20042001Strategyreviewedshort
Civ-4Civilization IV5#20062005Strategyreviewedshort
Civ-5Civilization V2201520112010Strategyreviewed
Civ-6Civilization VI2#2016Strategyreviewedshort
Com-2Commandos 2: Men of Courage420022001Tactics, RT
Contagion220142014Action [MP], FPS, Survival
Cossacks: European Wars5#20022001Strategy, RTSbestreviewedshort
CS-1Counter-Strike4#20111999Action [MP], FPSreviewedshort
CS-2Counter-Strike: Global Offensive4#20142012Action [MP], FPSreviewedshort
CK-2Crusader Kings II5#20152012Strategy, Grand Strategyreviewedshort
DayZ120142013Action [MP], FPS, Survival
Defcon320082006Strategy, RTS
DE-1Deus Ex4#20152000RPG, FPSreviewedshort
DE-1+Deus Ex: Revision320152014RPG, FPS
DE-2Deus Ex: Human Revolution5#20142011RPG, FPSbestreviewedshort
DE-3Deus Ex: Mankind Divided320172016RPG, FPS
Dh-1Dishonored4#20152012Action, FPSreviewedshort
D-3Doom 34#20092004Action, FPSreviewedshort
D-4DOOM5201720162016Action, FPSreviewed
TES-5The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim5#20132011RPG, FPSbestreviewedshort
EU-4Europa Universalis 45#20152013Strategy, Grand Strategyreviewedshort
Fr-1F.E.A.R.420092005Action, FPS
F-3Fallout 3320152008RPG, FPS
F-3.5Fallout: New Vegas520172010RPG, FPSbestreviewedshort
F-4Fallout 43#20162015RPG, FPSreviewedshort
FC-1Far Cry4#20092004Action, FPSreviewedshort
GTA-2AGrand Theft Auto: Vice City3#20062002Action, FPSreviewedshort
GTA-3Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas5#20062004Action, FPSbestreviewedshort
GTA-5Grand Theft Auto V3#20152015Action, FPSreviewedshort
HL-1Half-Life4#20132001Action, FPSreviewedshort
HL-2Half-Life 25#20152004Action, FPSreviewedshort
HL-2.1Half-Life 2 Episode 1420152006Action, FPS
HL-2.2Half-Life 2 Episode 2420152007Action, FPS
HoI-4Hearts of Iron 43#20162016Strategy, Grand Strategyreviewedshort
Ht-2Hitman 2: Silent Assassin5#20032002Action, FPSreviewedshort
Il-2 Sturmovik420022001Simulation, Flight
Insurgency3#20142014Action [MP], FPSreviewedshort
IS Defense320162016Castle Defense
L4D-2Left 4 Dead 2320132009Action [MP], FPS, Survival
Manhunt3#20052003Action, FPSreviewedshort
MP-1Max Payne320102001Action, FPS
M-1Metro 2033520152010Action, FPS
M-2Metro: Last Light520192013Action, FPS
ME-1Mirror’s Edge4#20152008Action, FPSreviewedshort
M&B-1Mount & Blade: Warband5#20142010RPG, FPSbestreviewedshort
M&B-1+Mount & Blade: Napoleonic Wars520152012RPG, FPS
M&B-1+Mount & Blade: Viking Conquest320152014RPG, FPS
M&B-2Mount & Blade: Bannerlord520202020RPG, FPS
Of Kings and Men220162016Action [MP], FPS
OF-1Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis320022001Action, FPS
Plague Inc.320142012Strategy, RTS
Ps-2Planetside 2320132012Action [MP], FPS
P-1Portal5#20142007Puzzle, FPSreviewedshort
P-2Portal 25#20152011Puzzle, FPSreviewedshort
PoP-1Prince of Persia5#19961989DOSbestreviewedshort
PUBG3#20172017Action [MP], FPS, Survivalreviewedshort
RA-2Red Alert 2420012000Strategy, RTS
S-1STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl5#20102007RPG, FPSreviewedshort
The Stomping Land120142013Action [MP], FPS, Survival
Su-27 Flanker319981995Simulation, Flight
Syrian Warfare220172017Tactics, RT
GR-1Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon4#20042001Action, FPSreviewedshort
Underrail5201920192015RPG, TBbestreviewed
US-2Universe Sandbox 24#20152015Simulation, Physicsreviewedshort
Wolf-1Wolfenstein 3D5#19961992DOSreviewedshort
Wolf-2Return to Castle Wolfenstein5#20042001Action, FPSbestreviewedshort
Wolf-4Wolfenstein: The New Order3#20152014Action [MP], FPSreviewedshort
ZPS-2Zombie Panic!: Source5#20102007Action [MP], FPS, Survivalbestreviewedshort

Book Reviews

Book Reviews

Back to list of reviews
Last updated: Jan 1, 2022

List of book short reviews; absolute favorites are highlighted, while books with a full review have a hyperlink.


Caplan, Bryan – The Case Against Education (2018) ★★★★ / economics, education
According to libertarian economist Caplan, a college degree primarily serves to signal that a certain individual is sufficiently intelligent, conscientious, and conformist to finish a four year degree. Meanwhile, the gains in actual human capital are modest to non-existent (as the author flippantly notes, while anyone can come in and sit in at most college lectures, access to university gyms is tightly controlled). Promoting and subsidizing mass higher education is a huge misallocation of resources.
 REVIEW 2009  Chang, Ha-Joon – Kicking Away the Ladder (2002) ★★★★ / economics
Chang is a South Korean proponent of strategic trade. Adopting Friedrich List’s arguments for the early 21st century, he argues that American free trade rhetoric is largely for foreign consumption.
Dawkins, Richard – The God Delusion (2006) ★★★★ / theology, atheism
The past 1-2 decades have seen a massive retreat in religion – not just in the US, but in most of the rest of the world. I suspect much of this is driven by YouTube atheists, but where did many of them get their ideas from? Objectively, I think this may be one of the most influential books of the 21st century.
Ford, Martin – Rise of the Robots (2015) ★★★★ / economics, futurism
Superb overview of the role of automation on the future of leisure and employment – already reverberations of that with the candidacy of Andrew Yang.
 REVIEW 2009  Friedman, George – The Next 100 Years (2009) ★★ / geopolitics, futurism
China and Russia to fall apart (how convenient). Polish superpower. Mexican superpower. The coming war with Japan. Why does anybody take Friedman seriously?
Fukuyama, Francis – The End of History and the Last Man (1992) *** ★★★★★
This is one of the two “foundational” books of the post-Cold War geopolitical order (the other is Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations). The geopolitical ascent of China and the rise of populism in Europe would appear to refute this Panglossian, fin de siècle vision of universal liberal democracy. Or would it? The “Alt Right” of today are more liberal than the American men who stormed the beaches of Normandy.
Huntington, Samuel – The Clash of Civilizations (1996) *** ★★★★★
This is one of the two “foundational” books of the post-Cold War geopolitical order (the other is Fukuyama’s The End of History). Huntington argues that future conflicts will center around ancient cultural and religious identities, which are especially likely to occur in “cleft countries” that contain large demographic blocs identifying with separate civilizations. This was borne out in the Ukraine in 2014.
Kahn, Herman – On Thermonuclear War (1959) ★★★★
The inspiration for Dr. Strangelove, this is – in reality – an attempt to objectively analyze the costs of nuclear war (devastating, but survivable) and the most cost-effective way of mitigating it.
Kennedy, Paul – Preparing for the 21st Century (1993) ★★★★
Kroeber, Arthur A. – China’s Economy (2016) ★★★★ FULL REVIEW (2019)
List, Friedrich – The National System of Political Economy (1841) ★★★★
Liu, Xin – The Otherness of Self (2001) ★ FULL REVIEW (2013)
Only read/reviewed this because it was assigned in college.
Marx, Karl – Capital (1867) ★ ANTI-REVIEW (2018)
McGregor, Richard – The Party (2010) ★★★★
Some takeaway from this deep analysis of the world’s largest and most powerful political organization:
(1) China remains a thoroughly “Leninist” (or NEPist) state; its largest corporations, including nominally private ones, are connected by “red telephones” to Zhongnanhai.
(2) The overweening role of the Organization Department in choosing cadres.
(3) The CPC has a much tighter grip on both the military and regional branches than the CPSU did in the late USSR.
Moldbug, Mencius (Curtis Yarvin) – A Gentle Introduction to Unqualified Reservations (2009) ★★★
Will admit I found the foundational text of “neoreaction” to be rather underwhelming. The HBD was obviously not new to me, he seems to believe that supporting Britain in the American Revolutionary War is some great taboo (is that really so?), and engages in long-winded regurgitations of conservative talking points about the supposed global warming hoax.
Myers, B.R. – The Cleanest Race (2010) ★★★★
Convincing argument that Best Korea is more of an ultranationalist state than a Marxist-Leninist one.
Naughton, Barry – The Chinese Economy (2006) ★★★
Introductory textbook to the Chinese economy. Couple of observations:
(1) Chance of dying on the job under Maoism than getting fired;
(2) Perhaps uniquely for any major economy, there were zero positive returns to increasing education until ~1990.
Sachs, Jeffrey – The End of Poverty (2005) ★★★
Smith, Adam – The Wealth of Nations (1776) ★★★★
Smith, Arthur H. – Chinese Characteristics (1894) ★★★★★ FULL REVIEW (2013)
One of the best travelogues ever written.
Steyn, Mark America Alone (2006) ★★★★ FULL REVIEW (2009)
Funny writing style, appeals to American vatnik types, ultimately nonsensical but who cares.
Taleb, Nicholas Nassim – The Black Swan (2007) ★★★★
Turner, Jonathan Adair – Just Capital (2001) *** ★★★★★
Ware, Timothy – The Orthodox Church (1963) ★★★★
Yang, Andrew – The War on Normal People (2018) ★★★★ FULL REVIEW (2019)



Bostrom, Nick – Superintelligence (2014) ★★★★★ PENDING REVIEW
Dartnell, Lewis – The Knowledge (2014) ★★★★
Dunham, William – Journey through Genius (1991) ★★★★★
Grey, Aubrey de – Ending Aging (2007) ★★★
Hanson, Robin – The Age of Em (2016) *** ★★★★★ PENDING REVIEW
Kurzweil, Ray – The Singularity is Near (2005) *** ★★★★★
Series: My Top 5 Most Influential Books
Lynas, Mark – Six Degrees (2007) ★★★★ PENDING REVIEW
Meadows, Donella et al. – Limits to Growth: The 30 Year Update (2004) ★★★★★ FULL REVIEW (2010)
Smil, Vaclav – Global Catastrophes and Trends (2008) ★★★★ FULL REVIEW (2009)
Stager, Curt – Deep Future (2011) ★★★★ PENDING REVIEW
Tainter, Joseph – The Collapse of Complex Societies (1988) ★★★★ FULL REVIEW (2018)
Tegmark, Mark – Our Mathematical Universe (2014) ★★★★



Bloom, Howard – The Lucifer Principle (1995) ★★★★★ FULL REVIEW (2010)
Chua, Amy – World on Fire (2002) ★★★★
Clark, Gregory – A Farewell to Alms (2008) ★★★★★
Cochran, Gregory & Harpending – The 10,000 Year Explosion (2009) ★★★★
Finlayson, Clive – The Humans Who Went Extinct (2010) ★★★★
Hart, Michael – Understanding Human History (2007) ★★
Jensen, Arthur – The g Factor (1998) *** ★★★★★
Jones, Garett – Hive Mind (2015) ★★★★ PENDING REVIEW
Klein, Richard – The Human Career (1999) ★★★
Lynn, Richard – The Global Bell Curve (2008) ★★★
Murray, Charles – Human Accomplishment (2009) *** ★★★★★
Murray, Charles – Coming Apart (2012) ★★★★★ PENDING REVIEW
Murray, Charles & Herrnstein – Bell Curve (1994) *** ★★★★★
Series: My Top 5 Most Influential Books
Papagianni, Dimitra & Morse – The Neanderthals Rediscovered (2013) ★★★
Pinker, Steven – The Blank Slate (2002) ★★★★★
Ritchie, Stuart – Intelligence: All That Matters (2015) ★★★★
Rushton, J. Philippe – Race, Evolution, and Behavior (2000) *** ★★★★★
Series: My Top 5 Most Influential Books
Todd, Emmanuel – The Explanation of Ideology (1985) *** ★★★★★ PENDING REVIEW
Wade, Nicholas – A Troublesome Inheritance (2014) ★★★★



Cohen, Stephen F. – Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives (2009) ★★★★ PENDING REVIEW
Gaddy, Clifford & Hill – The Siberian Curse (2003) ★★★★ PENDING REVIEW
Hoffman, David – The Oligarchs (2001) ★★★★
Hutchins, Chris & Korobko – Putin (2011) ★★★★
Ilyin, Ivan – Our Tasks (1956) *** ★★★★★ PENDING REVIEW
Lucas, Edward – The New Cold War (2008) ★
McMeekin, Sean – The Russian Revolution (2017) ★★★★★ PENDING REVIEW
Parshev, Andrey – Why Russia Is Not America (1999) ★★★★ FULL REVIEW (2009)
Putin, Vladimir et al. – From the First Person (2000) ★★★
Sakwa, Richard – The Crisis of Russian Democracy (2010) ★★★★★ PENDING REVIEW
Sakwa, Richard – Frontline Ukraine (2014) ★★★★★ PENDING REVIEW
Schrad, Mark – Vodka Politics (2013) ★★★★ PENDING REVIEW
Treisman, Daniel – The Return (2011) ★★★★★ PENDING REVIEW
Trenin, Dmitry – Should We Fear Russia? (2016) ★★★ PENDING REVIEW
Trubetzkoy, Nikolay – Europe and Mankind (1920) ★★★★★ FULL REVIEW (2009)



Arnove, Robert & Graff National Literacy Campaigns (1987) ★★★
Bellamy, Chris – Absolute War (2007) ★★★★★ PENDING REVIEW
Diamond, Jared – Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997) ★★★★★ FULL REVIEW (2009)
Dupuy, Trevor N. A – Genius for War (1977) ★★★★
Ferguson, Niall – The Pity of War (1998) ★★★★★
Series: Best Books on WW1
Fischer, David Hackett – Albion’s Seed (1989) *** ★★★★★
Harris, William – Ancient Literacy (1989) ★★★★
Jones, E.L. – The European Miracle (1981) ★★★★
 Kennedy, Paul – The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers (1987) *** ★★★★★
Series: My Top 5 Most Influential Books
Korotayev, Andrei et al. – Introduction to Social Macrodynamics (2006) *** ★★★★★
Series: My Top 5 Most Influential Books
Landes, David The Wealth and Poverty of Nations (1998) ★★★★
Morris, Ian – Why the West Rules–For Now (2010) ★★★★
Morris, Ian – The Measure of Civilization (2010) ★★★★
Overy, Richard – Why the Allies Won (1995) ★★★★★
Pinker, Steven – The Better Angels of our Nature (2011) ★★★★
Pinker, Steven – Enlightenment Now (2018) ★★★ ANTI-REVIEW (2018)
Pomeranz, Kenneth – The Great Divergence (2000) ★★★★★ FULL REVIEW (2011)
Ricon, Jose Luis – Back in the USSR (2017) ★★★★
Schama, Simon – Citizens (1989) ★★★★★
Schwartz, Benjamin – In Search of Wealth and Power (1963) ★★★★ FULL REVIEW (2013)
Shirer, William L. – The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (1960) ★★★★★
Slezkine, Yuri – The Jewish Century (2004) ★★★★★
Tooze, Adam – Wages of Destruction (2015) ★★★★★ PENDING REVIEW
Tuchman, Barbara – The Guns of August (1962) ★★★★★
Series: Best Books on WW1
Turchin, Peter – War and Peace and War (2006) ★★★★★ FULL REVIEW (2010)
Turchin, Peter – Ultrasociety (2015) ★★★★



Grass, Gunter – Peeling the Onion (2006) ★★★★
Scott, John – Behind the Urals (1941) ★★★ FULL REVIEW (2009)
Trump, Donald – The Art of the Deal (1987) ★★★
Werth, Alexander – Moscow War Diary (1942) ★★★ FULL REVIEW (2009)



Borges, Jorge Luis – Labyrinths (1964) *** ★★★★★
Camus, Albert – The Stranger (1942) ★★★★★
Evola, Julius – Meditations on the Peaks (1974) ★★★
Istvan, Zoltan – The Transhumanist Wager (2013) ★★
Kundera, Milan – The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984) ★★★★★
Machiavelli, Niccolò – The Prince (1532) ★★★★★
Unamuno, Miguel de – San Manuel Bueno, Martyr (1930) ★★★★★



Abnett, Dan – Xenos (2001) ★★★★
Bacigalupi, Paolo – The Water Knife (2015) ★★★
Baxter, Stephen – FLOOD ★★★★
Brooks, Max – The Zombie Survival Guide (2003) ★★★★★
Brown, Pierce – RED RISING ★★★★
Card, Orson – Scott Ender’s Game (1985) ★★★
Carter, Paul – The Last Objective (1946) ★★★★ [2020]
Not the best sci-fi story, not the worst. Implicit commentary on the futility of war, evidently hates military psychologists, elements of horror towards the end. Interesting portrayal of underground subterrene combat.
Clancy, Tom – Red Storm Rising (1986) ★★★★
Collins, Suzanne – HUNGER GAMES ★★★★
Forstchen, William – One Second After (2009) ★★★★★
Glukhovsky, Dmitry – METRO ★★★★★ PENDING REVIEW
Harris, Robert – Fatherland (1992) ★★★★★
Herbert, Frank – Dune (1965) ★★★★
Hertling, William – Avogadro Corp (2014) ★★★★
Howey, Hugh – SILO ★★★★ PENDING REVIEW
Huxley, Aldous – Brave New World (1932) ★★★★★
Kunstler, Howard – World Made by Hand (2008) ★★ FULL REVIEW (2009)
Leiber, Fritz – A Pail of Air (1951) ★★★
Lukyanenko, Sergey – Knights of the Forty Islands (1992) ★★★★
Mather, Matthew – NOMAD (2016) ★★★★ PENDING REVIEW
Miller, Walter M. – A Canticle for Leibowitz (1960) *** ★★★★★
Orwell, George – 1984 (1949) ★★★★★
Robinson, Kim Stanley – The Years of Rice and Salt (2003) ★★★★★
Stephenson, Neal – Seveneves (2015) ★★★★ PENDING REVIEW
Stirling, S.M. – EMBERVERSE ★★★★★
Voinovich, Vladimir – Moscow 2042 (1986) ★★ FULL REVIEW (2018)
Wingrove, David – The Middle Kingdom (1989) ★★



Abercrombie, Joe – THE FIRST LAW ★★★★★
The world-building doesn’t amount to much more than cardboard cutouts of TV Tropes realms – The Union (=The Federation), Gurkish Empire (=The Empire), The North (=”It’s Grim Up North”). The plot is forgettable, and sometimes barely made sense. Yet despite all that, Abercrombie proves that in literature, it is the characters that carry the day: Years on, I still remember the crippled torturer Glokta, the doofy aristo Jezal, and of course the berserker Logen and his band of warriors.
Friedman, C.S. – Black Sun Rising (1991) ★★★★ FULL REVIEW (2013)
Has some cool metaphysics, but lack of interesting plot and characters.
Jacques, Brian – REDWALL ★★★★★
Jordan, Robert – THE WHEEL OF TIME ★★★★
Le Guin, Ursula – EARTHSEA CHRONICLES ★★★★
Martin, G.R.R. – A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE ★★★★★
Pullman, Philip – HIS DARK MATERIALS ★★★★★
Reeve, Philip – Mortal Engines (2001) ★★★★
Rowling, J.K. – HARRY POTTER ★★★★
Sanderson, Brandon – MISTBORN ★★★★★
Sanderson, Brandon – WAX & WAYNE ★★★★
Tolkien, John R.R. – THE LORD OF THE RINGS ★★★★★
Yudkowsky, Eliezer – Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (2021) ★★★★★



Demarco, M.J. – The Millionaire Fastlane (2011) *** ★★★★★
Durant, John – The Paleo Manifesto (2013) ★★★★★
Roosh V – Bang! (2007) ★★★★★
Wade, Paul – Convict Conditioning (2010) ★★★★


Start Here

Start Here

Last updated: Feb 1, 2022

This page is a curated archive of my best posts since I started blogging here in January 2008, before moving to The Russian Reaction in 2015 and to Substack in October 2021.

You can read a short introduction to my work at What is Powerful Takes?

If you like my work, please do subscribe to my Substack and feel free to join our Community Discord.




The following sections contain a structured archive of my articles [best] since I started blogging, beginning with a list of scientific publications and ongoing projects.



This section largely deals with my non-Russia related output. While I am really an pundit without portfolio, there are a few areas that I am especially interested in:

  • Geopolitics
  • HBD, psychometrics, and their application to economics and economic history
  • Political science
  • Futurism and transhumanism
  • Cryptocurrencies

(Regrettably), I have yet to complete any books. But here are some of the Projects I’m working on.


Scientific Research

I am mostly a blogger and pundit, not a researcher, but I do very occasionally publish scientific research. New articles will tend to appear on my Google Scholar profile.







Philosophy & Transhumanism


Age of Malthusian Industrialism

One possible future scenario: since all personality traits are heritable, and desired fertility is one such trait, a “business as usual” future scenario is that the demographic glut will reverse and lead to a renewed population explosion; in tandem with technological stagnation brought on through dysgenic reproduction patterns, this will eventually lead to the industrial economy reaching its carrying capacity, ushering in the Age of Malthusian Industrialism.

Search all AoMI-related tags.




Hive Mind: IQ & Success

National IQ

Apollo’s Ascent

Apollo’s Ascent is a series of posts, a theory, and hopefully a future book making the argument that the rate of technological progress can be modeled as a function of existing technology, literacy, and the IQ distribution.











Creative Writing/Short Stories

  • WAGMI (2021): The %TOTAL Maximizer: A Halloween Story


Note that as of June 2020, I am tracking my predictions at PredictBook.

Successfully predicted:



Health & Fitness




Note I maintain 2 pages on this topic: COVID-19 Resources | COVID-19 Survival Guide.

Quantified Russia

I started blogging as a “Russia watcher”, so to this end I segregated all related posts so that they wouldn’t dominate the other sections. This section consists of selections from The Best of Da Russophile, a large archive I made in 2014 to mark the formal end of the Da Russophile blog, as well as consequent Russia-related posts I have made since moving to the Unz Review.

Core Articles

Politics & Democracy

Russian Elections


Liberal Opposition


Society & Culture



Foreign Policy

Foreign Policy: The Near Abroad



The AK

This initial section deals with milestones in my life blogging. In other parts of the Archive, posts where I am substantively involved (e.g. personal journalistic coverage) are tagged *The AK*.


Talks, Podcasts, & Videos

My YouTube channel has a large percentage of my videos, podcasts, etc., and I plan to expand my content offerings in the following months.




Kholmogorov Translations

My former blog at The Unz Review is the primary source for English translations of Russian national-conservative philosopher Egor Kholmogorov, which were carried out over the course of a few years by the translator Fluctuarius Argenteus and myself.

Here is a sample of our translations:

Eventually, we hope to convert it into an English language anthology. The project page is The Kholmogorov Reader.

Russian Spectrum

Translations from the short-lived The Russian Spectrum translation project in 2013 (see more details here).

The World Russia Forum 2013

This June I had the pleasure of once again attending and speaking at the World Russia Forum. The event now happens twice a year, in Washington DC and Moscow, and is intended to draw together Russian and American experts, academics, journalists, and policy-makers in an effort to improve relations between these two nations. An account of it, and the subsequent reception at the Russian Embassy to mark Russia Day, follows below:

1 - me in DC

It was raining with near monsoonal intensity when I disembarked off the train*. I have no complaints; these downpours dispel the sultry oppressiveness inherent to a city originally built on swampland, so far as I was concerned the more rain the merrier.

2 - al jazeera bus

The Qataris sure know how to get their message out!

3 - hotel gathering

Four of the WRF’s speakers in the hotel dining room. From left to right: Pamela (Patrick’s wife); Martin Sieff; Patrick Armstrong; William Dunkerley; your humble servant.

[Read more…]

The Western Media’s War Against Cyprus And Russia

If you ever manage to get a troupe as diverse as Latynina, Mark Adomanis, the Cypriot Communist Party, virtually every financial analyst, Prokhorov, and Putin united in condemning your crass stupidity and cack-handedness, it’s probably time to stop and ponder. But it’s safe to say that’s not what the Troika – the European Commission, European Central Bank, and IMF – tasked with managing the European sovereign debt crisis is going to be doing any time soon. They seem to be living in la la land.

Here is the low-down. Contrary to German/ECB propaganda, Cypriot public finances, while nothing to write home about, are not in a catastrophic state. The debt to GDP ratio, far from ballooning out of control like Greece’s, was actually lower than Germany’s as late as 2011! This was despite Cyprus being steadily hammered by the global financial crisis and the massive explosion at a naval base in 2011 that cost it about 10% of its GDP.

cyprus-debt-dynamics The main problem was in its financial sector. Although it should have been safe on paper, Cypriot banks had the bad fortune to have had many operations in Greece – which hemorrhaged money as Greek debts were restructured under EU guidance. These involved painful austerity, but the principle that bank deposits would be inviolable held across the PIIGS. But for Cyprus, the Eurocrats – egged on by Schäuble in particular – decided to make an exception, demanding a “bail-in” as part of any financial rescue package. For the ultimately trifling sum of $6 billion, they were prepared to erode basic principles such as sanctity of property that the EU is founded on.

According to Edward Scicluna, the Maltese Finance Minister, his Cypriot counterpart Michalis Sarris was for all intents and purposes brow-beaten into accepting the deal – a 6.75% levy on deposits of less than 100,000 Euros, and 9.9% on everything above that – that the country’s parliament would later decisively reject. The Europeans, according to him, were dead-set on “downsizing” Cyprus’ supposedly overgrown financial sector and in particular its status as a tax haven and alleged center of Russian money laundering. After 10 grueling hours of discussions, Sarris finally conceded, and as soon as that happened, “Schäuble demanded that all wire transfers to and from the Cypriot banks would cease forthwith.”

In other words, they wished to destroy Cyprus’ financial system, and it seems certain that they have succeeded in this. As soon as the banks reopen (now delayed until at least May 26th), who exactly will continue to keep their deposits in a Cypriot bank?

[Read more…]

So Who’s The New Clown At The Economist’s Russia Desk?

I really did think it was getting better there under Joshu Yaffa, certainly it’s not typical of him to write such vitriolic but more importantly factually inaccurate articles. Let’s hope the world’s sleaziest magazine was getting one of their old-timers to file for him that day, instead of representing the start of a new descent into Lucasian raving.

As usual, I will ignore the emotive and hyperbolic language which starts from the get go with the title “Herod’s Law“. Though I would note from the outset that The Economist would never in a million years use similar terms to describe, say, the child victims of the US drone wars. That is because its main function is to serve as a mouthpiece of the Western ruling class.

So here is the list of its lapses in journalistic integrity:

(1) Citing only anti-Kremlin figures: Alexei Venediktov (of Echo of Moscow), an opposition deputy, and an organization headed by Kudrin. No honest attempt is made to question the (57% of) Russians who support the law.

(2) Extremely and almost certainly willfully misleading usage of statistics:

Over the past 20 years American families adopted 60,000 Russian children with 19 recorded deaths among them. Adoption in Russia is relatively rare. Even so, in the same period 1,500 adopted children died in Russian families.

Thanks to Charles Clover, the 1,500 figure very likely originated from a release by the Public Chamber of the RF that argued against the idea that foreign adoption is dangerous. But the Economist did not see it fit to give the full quote (my bold for emphasis):

According to data from Russian experts, in the past 20 years US citizens adopted nearly 60,000 Russian children; during this period, 19 children died by the fault of their adopted parents. In the same period, in the families of Russian citizen adopters, there died nearly 1,500 children.

See what they did there? Needless to say, the numbers of children dying by the “fault of their adopted parents” vs. the numbers who just died (by other murderers; by house fires, traffic accidents, medical complications, etc) are IN NO WAY COMPARABLE! And yet the Economist misleading treats them as the same.

In addition, it is subtly implied that per capita risk may be even greater than the impression generated by the absolute numbers. In reality as I already pointed out adoptions by Russians with the exception of two years have always exceeded foreign adoptions (of which Americans account for one third):

What’s more, the 19 recorded cases mentioned may well be – indeed, are quite likely to be – underestimates, because tracking mechanisms for Russian adoptees in the US are poorly developed (indeed, this was one of the main issues of contention between Russia and the US on adoptions).

(3) Internal contradictions: This is literally one of the most hilarious, keep-your-head-in-a-vise texts I’ve read this week:

Having acquired considerable wealth and freedom of movement, Mr Putin’s elite is growing increasingly tired of his rule. Whereas before he offered wealth and impunity in exchange for loyalty, he now demands that they take sides in the Magnitsky case, a sacrifice that could yet jeopardise their position in the West. Instead of uniting the elite behind him, this could turn more people against him.

So “more people” (57% of whom, BTW, support the Dima Yakovlev Law) are going to turn away from Putin… because his actions threaten the yachts and villas of “Putin’s elite” in the West??

The reaction would be just the opposite because that “elite” is loathed and despised, whereas Putin has overwhelming popular approval. Only a moment’s thought would reveal the absurdity of The Economist’s statement, however I suppose there is no time for reflection when there is a propaganda hit piece to be written.

(4) Edit – this is a new addition. This is the photograph the Economist uses to demonstrate this “Herod’s Law.”

It is captioned “One of the victims of a shameful law.” Thing is, however, that there is a WAITING LIST for adopting children under the age of 3 by Russian citizens. As such using this photo of a toddler to illustrate the piece together with the caption is nothing more than blatant and cynical emotional manipulation.

Blast From The Past: What Jim Rogers Said About Russia In 2003

This guy isn’t as clear-headed as Eric Kraus, is he? But does have company in the form of Andrew Miller, Jeffrey Tailer, “Streetwise Professor”, and Ed Lucas. H/t Mark Adomanis.

—– Original Message —– 
 Dmitry Alimov 
 [email protected] 
 Friday, September 12, 2003 11:28 PM 
 Conversation with Jim Rogers – HILARIOUS

Jim Rogers, a famous international investor and writer attended HBS this Wednesday. In his speech, he badmouthed Russia (in his usual style) and quoted several “facts” that were completely bogus. As you would expect, I could not let him get away with lying about our country and publicly disputed his factual claims. He basically told me I was a moron and left. In response, I sent an email to him with facts and references disputing his claims (sending a copy to my HBS classmates). What ensued is quite amazing – read attached emails. Start with the first email and read from the end (my original email), then read his response and finally my rebuttal in the second email. This will be worth your time I promise. This has already been circulated all over HBS, several other universities and in the investment community in New York. Since this is already in public domain, feel free to forward on.


Dear Mr. Rogers: I am the “lad” who disputed your factual claims with regard to Russia today. First of all, I would like to thank you for speaking to us at the Harvard Business School.  I think I speak for my fellow HBS students when I say that we enjoyed your original views and interesting stories today. However, I must address the unfortunate reality that your facts about Russia are plain wrong. You made three principal inaccurate claims today – I will deal with all of them in sequence.

Claim #1.  People are leaving Russia

Wrong.  In fact, according to Financial Times, your favorite newspaper, Russia turns out to be the second largest recipient of immigrants after the US (see attached FT article). Oops. While it is true that Russia’s population is declining but the reasons for that have nothing to do with people leaving the country, it is things like low birth rate (only 1.2 per woman), which is an issue that confronts many European states.

[Read more…]

Books I Will Be (re-)Reading While Writing My Own

It’s already a pretty big list, so I won’t be taking nominations for more. I hope to write reviews of all of them as they’re (re)read.

  • The Return (Daniel Treisman) – the best Russian politics books out there. 5/5
  • Armageddon Averted (Stephen Kotkin) – TBR (to be read)
  • Putin (Chris Hutchins, Alexander Korobko) – TBR, but has to be good as it quotes me.
  • Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives (Stephen Cohen) – 5/5
  • Virtual Politics (Andrew Wilson) – too much PoMo, but solid. 4/5
  • Drug, Sex and Libel in the New Moscow (Mark Ames, Matt Taibbi, Edward Limonov) – TBR, for the lulz.
  • From the First Person (Putin) – all Western journalists would benefit from reading this series of telling interviews. 5/5
  • The Oligarchs (David E. Hoffman) – TBR
  • Popular literature with satires of politics/economics including Metro 2033 and works by Pelevin.
  • The New Cold War (Edward Lucas) – to remind myself of hack enemy talking points. 1/5
  • Vekhi (anthology) – key book from 1909 that informs current Kremlin ideology.
  • Putin’s Comeback (Chen Xiaomeng) – TBR, can’t say I’ll read all or even most of it, as it exists only in Chinese and my Chinese isn’t that good, but it will sure make a refreshing change from Western harping.

Obviously these are just the books, I’ll be looking over tons of papers and news articles too.

Strategic Direction Of Da Russophile

I feel that my blogging in terms of influencing the discourse on Russia has leveled off into something resembling a plateau. I now write the occasional op-ed; appear every so often in magazines, research articles, and even books; and the blog itself attracts about 500 daily visitors. But truth is I am barely making a dint relative to the likes of Harding or Lucas.

To this end I am embarking on two big projects that will consume the bulk of my creative efforts for at least the next year.

(1) I am writing a book with the preliminary title PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME: How Western Journalists Are Fueling A New Cold War Against Russia. (I’m not 100% happy with it and will welcome alternate suggestions).

As I have argued for close to 5 years now, Western media coverage of Russia tends to be woefully biased, frequently malicious, and – most unforgivably – factually wrong. This does not mean there is nothing to criticize about Russia and Russians and I will not refrain from doing so in the book. However, said criticisms must be grounded in statistical data, an appreciation of the viewpoints of ordinary Russians, and a judicious comparative perspective (which is NOT equivalent to “moral relativism” or “whataboutism” as many hardcore Russophobes claim).

In 1926, Will Rogers said, “Russia is a country that no matter what you say about it, it’s true.” It is high time to make this way of thinking obsolete.

The book will be divided into about a dozen chapters, covering all aspects of Russia which are either heavily misrepresented, or around which there exist powerful misconceptions. Here is a short sample list of such “Russia tropes”:

  • “Dying Russia”
  • The Manichean view of Russian politics
  • “If This Happened in Russia”
  • Putin the fascist, Stalinist, neo-Tsarist, kleptocratic mafia thug
  • Stagnation
  • Pariah state
  • The strange obsession with “Kremlin TV”, i.e. Russia Today
  • How big bad Russia raped plucky democratic Georgia

In addition to my own original work, the book will also feature guest articles from various political and legal experts, as well as original translations from the “unfree” Russian media. By revealing the lies and misrepresentations on which so much Western commentary on Russia is rooted, the book will hopefully serve as a catalyst for rethinking and concrete change. Ведь так больше жить нельзя.

(2) As blog readers will recall, back in May I attended a Washington conference, chaired by  Edward Lozansky, devoted to brainstorming ways to improve Russia’s dismal image abroad. Several fruitful suggestions came out of the meeting, one of which has already been brought into being: The site

My own modest contribution was a site devoted to translating the Russian media into English, a reverse-Inosmi if you will. Its preliminary name is RUSSIA VOICES.

There are several core structural features that make Western coverage of Russia as bad as it is. One of these is that there are more questions than can be answered; as argued by Patrick Armstrong, it takes 10x longer to write a rebuttal to a lying article, than the lying article itself (and claims of Kremlin-paid bloggers to the contrary, – I wish! – we don’t have a hundredth of either the resources or the media exposure of the Lucas and Harding types). Other such features include the “propaganda model” and exiled oligarch funding of anti-Putin kompromat. These are systemic forces that need a systemic response.

Should it become a significant feature of the media landscape, RUSSIA VOICES will accomplish three major things:

  1. Improve perceptions of Russian media in general (i.e., not Zimbabwe).
  2. Improve perceptions of Russia in general (i.e., complex array of liberal, Kremlin, statist, patriot, nationalist, & leftist forces; NOT a Manichean struggle between Padawan Navalny and Darth Putler).
  3. Publicize Russian voices on global affairs (e.g. Syria).

After all, what would YOU, as a media consumer, rather read about: Top Russian sci-fi novelist Sergey Lukyanenko’s thoughts on the Russian elections, or Miriam Elder on how Putin stole her dry-cleaning ticket?

Exactly. And I am sure the same goes for many academics, students, expats, businesspeople, and intelligent open-minded laymen. RUSSIA VOICES will translate from all sides of the ideological spectrum, be they pro-Kremlin or anti-Kremlin; Western media consumers will then have the freedom to independently judge exactly how “unfree” is the Russian media (and Russia in general) for themselves.

The only problem is that unlike the book, RUSSIA VOICES will require not insubstantial funding to get off the ground. Translators gotta be paid. I will be working on this issue in the next several months.

Blogging here will not come to a stop, nor at the other site. But intensity probably will fall off a bit.